The San Antonio Spurs are the best team in the NBA right now, if you believe what ESPN has to say. Being the best team in the NBA doesn’t necessarily guarantee anything, but it would seem that the sports website is making its call for which team has the best shot at winning it all this June.
The new ESPN power rankings still keep the San Antonio Spurs in the No. 1 slot amidst a streak of wins that has the Spurs as only the eighth team in NBA history to win 40 of their first 47 games. It’s definitely showing that this teams is hot and ready for the 2011 NBA Playoffs, especially when it has been noted time-and-time again that the Spurs are typically a team that gets hot in the second half. If this team isn’t hot yet at 40-7, it would be pretty scary to see what they could do next.
The Spurs are being carried by the tree-headed monster of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, getting it done with a team-first approach. In these ESPN power rankings (created by Marc Stein), the Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls are the teams ranked second and third. These are bold statements, especially with the Los Angeles Lakers serving as the two-time defending NBA champions.
In the latest power rankings, the Lakers have fallen to fifth on the list, just behind a Miami Heat team that is on the rise. With all five of these teams we are talking about division leaders, but hot and cold streaks can hurt even the best of teams during the season. The Lakers are looking like a much older team than in the past few years, but it would be silly to count them out this early in the season. Losing to the Celtics in their first rematch since the 2010 NBA Finals had to take a hit on their egos, but there is still a lot of the season in front of us.
At the opposite end of the spectrum we have the Cleveland Cavaliers being called the worst team in basketball, and it would be difficult to find someone who would argue with that assessment. The Cavs have fallen to 8-39 on the year, including a 20-game losing streak that has only been done four times in the history of the game. Looking at it through those glasses, we might have to soon qualify these Cavs as one of the worst teams in NBA history.
So does ESPN have it right? Are the San Antonio Spurs really the best team in the NBA? Six of the seven teams to win 40 games this quickly won the NBA title that year, so it is very hard to argue with those stats. It also might be hard to argue with what Celtics coach Doc Rivers always says about never having lost a playoff series with his starting five all healthy. With so many contenders in the league this year, it is going to set up for a very exciting 2011 NBA Playoffs.